Heisman Finalists 2011: Why These 5 Represent the Strongest Finalists in Years

Joe PenkalaCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2011

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03:  Tyrann Mathieu #7 of the LSU Tigers celebrates after earning the MVP trophy in their 42-10 win over the Georgia Bulldogs during the 2011 SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 3, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Some years, the Heisman finalists come under fire because some feel a player is missing or cannot believe that one of the finalists got an invite. This year, Tyrann Mathieu, Trent Richardson, Montee Ball, Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are the individuals coming to New York in hopes that they will hear their name announced as the 77th Heisman Trophy winner.

One thing we know is that the best players for the trophy will be sitting there in New York.

Before the year started, players like LaMichael James, Matt Barkley or Landry Jones were amongst the names that people felt could make the trip to New York. But somewhere throughout the season, they came up short.

For LaMichael James, opening the season with an average performance against LSU and then missing almost three games of playing time has cost him his chance. Despite leading the nation in yards per game and still putting up over 1500 yards, James will not be returning to New York City for the second straight year.

Also in the Pac-12, Matt Barkley was late to the candidate party. Granted, Barkley came down the stretch hard and fast and had some incredible games, but he did not hit his stride until the second half of the season, which proved to be too little, too late.

Lastly, Landry Jones seemed to have an inside track on catching Andrew Luck. He was the quarterback of the No. 1 team in the nation and had put up huge numbers the previous year in a pass-happy offense. 

While some contenders fell off, the five young men that are in New York did not. These players played their best in big games and helped carry their teams to the success they accomplished.

When the announcement is made for this year's Heisman winner, one thing is for sure: the five best candidates for this award will be in the crowd ready to represent their program with college football's highest award.